Job Universe: Teacher Assistant

Seeing students develop and gain appreciation of the joy of learning can be very rewarding.

  • The job: Teacher assistants provide instructional and clerical support for classroom teachers, allowing teachers more time for lesson planning and teaching. Some teacher assistants perform exclusively noninstructional or clerical tasks, such as monitoring nonacademic settings. Playground and lunchroom attendants are examples. Most teacher assistants, however, perform a combination of instructional and clerical duties. They generally give instructional reinforcement to children, under the direction and guidance of teachers.
  • Outlook: Employment of teacher assistants is expected to grow by 10 percent between 2006 and 2016. School enrollments are projected to increase slowly over the next decade, but faster growth is expected among special-education students and students for whom English is a second language, and they will increase as a share of the total school-age population. These students are the ones who most need teacher assistants.
  • Experience: A number of colleges offer associate degrees or certificate programs that either prepare graduates to work as teacher assistants or provide additional training for current teacher assistants. Many teacher assistants need only a high school diploma and on-the-job training. A college degree or related coursework in child development improves job opportunities, however.
  • The not-so-good: Seeing students develop and gain appreciation of the joy of learning can be very rewarding. However, working closely with students can be both physically and emotionally tiring. Teacher assistants who work with special-education students often perform more strenuous tasks, including lifting, as they help students with their daily routine. Those who handle clerical work may tire of administrative duties, such as copying materials or entering data.
  • Pay: Median annual earnings of teacher assistants in May 2006 were $20,740. Approximately 4 in 10 teacher assistants work part time.

Learn more:

This information is from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.